Snippet, Book 1, Chapter 2

Posted: January 29th, 2010 under Contents.
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As I suspected it would, Other Stuff kept me busy yesterday and today, so Chapter 2 isn’t yet up.    For your patience, here’s a snippet from it, some not-quite-connected paragraphs.

Location: Duke’s Stronghold in the north

Arcolin has been in Kieri’s office there many times of course, but he’s realized that Kieri will probably never return.   Almost certainly will never return.   It feels different…

Arcolin gathered up his wet things and carried them to the kitchen, to be dried by the cooking hearth.  Back upstairs, he went into Kieri’s office and looked around.

Kieri had asked for nothing from this office, from the stronghold.  Things he had bought in Aarenis or Vérella: the striped rug Tammarion had chosen, a carved box with a running fox on its lid, a favorite whetstone always placed on the left of the great desk, a candleholder of translucent pink stone that glowed with light when the candle was lit, the chest in which–as Arcolin knew–Kieri’s dead wife’s armor and the children’s daggers were wrapped in Tammarion’s troth-dress.  Kieri had asked for none of these.

Arcolin does the chores he’s come for,  preparing for the next day’s work, for the journey south and the necessary conference with the Council, then:
The room seemed emptier than it should, emptier than it ever had.
“I’m trying,” he muttered to himself, then shook his head and went to bed.


For Kieri, of course, there was no time, that night of his departure, to think of his favorite things back “home” and ask Arcolin to send along his favorite whetstone or candlestick  or any of the other things he had found, acquired, preserved over the years.    But Arcolin doesn’t quite understand yet how desperate that night was.   To him, the failure to ask for–or even mention–these things is a sign of Kieri’s determination to turn his back on his former domain, and those who had been his loyal followers.

The feudal oath went both ways…lord and vassal pledged to each other, the follower to obey and serve; the lord to protect.    Of course, it didn’t work as well in practice as in theory much of the time, but that was the intent.  So Arcolin’s feeling not just bereft at the loss of a friend and commander, as we might be, but also aggrieved at what he cannot but perceive as a breach of trust, even though reason tells him that once Kieri learned the truth of his heritage, he also had a duty to Lyonya.   Arcolin is not entirely ruled by reason; he takes oaths seriously, emotionally.   And although he does not entirely realize it, and although he pushes aside his sense of betrayal, he is even more determined to be ‘the good lord” to anyone he commands from now on.


  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — January 29, 2010 @ 9:45 pm


    It makes so much difference, doesn’t it, whether the point of view in a story involving a social hierarchy (such as a military organization) resides in “officer country” or among the rank and file. Paks may not have been an “ordinary” soldier, exactly, but that was her point of view during much of the Deed. I anticipated the shift in point of view to the upper levels of the chain of command, and I’m eager to see how it works out.

    And of course we have now in the foreground not only the military chain of command but the whole complexity of feudal status and obligation. A wealth of possibilities…

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 29, 2010 @ 10:36 pm


    Yup. Even though Paks’s view broadened from her limited background and status as a private, she had no experience at all in the upper ranks.

    This first volume places people in their new situations of obligation, duty, responsibility–it’s not just about who owes what to whom, but that’s part of the fabric of their world. In our modern situation, in this country, we have a lot of unspoken/unexamined ideas about who owes what to whom–and a lot of resentment when expectations aren’t met, whether the other person had any idea that such expectations existed.

    Feudal society was far from simple, and people did break the rules, (or history would be a lot simpler) but the rules were known. The formal oaths made it clear. There were ceremonies for making oaths, for releasing from an oath, and so on. Our only analogues for feudal society (and they’re not exact, of course) are in the military and in certain criminal organizations.

  • Comment by Layla — January 29, 2010 @ 10:58 pm


    This snippet reminds me of how ignorance can lead to…well…other things. For example when a human is ignorant of elven traditions (using a paksenarrion example; the sacred boughs). Is this ignorance of Arcolin’s any different?

  • Comment by arthur piantadosi — January 30, 2010 @ 10:23 am


    This is Arthur. And also, we have the whole Falkian/Girdish thing. Although both are hero’s and “saint’s” Falk is chosen more by the nobility, and Gird by the more lowborn, with exceptions, the Crown Prince of Tsaia being one. When Paks is with the Lyonyan squires, you could at the start feel like there was some rivalry there, though not bad. And you’ve said that there will be Dragons in the trilogy, so we’ll find out about Camwyn, and maybe Tir, too. Did you borrow that name? Because I know Tir was of the Norse Pantheon, as the old god of war and oaths, before Odin/Woden came.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 30, 2010 @ 10:34 am


    Layla, I’m not sure what you would consider “different.” In the case of Paks’s ignorance of elven death rituals, it was a cultural thing–just as I’m unfamiliar with, for example, Hindu death rituals. Arcolin’s ignorance is of events affecting a friend’s motivations–not cultural, but specific to “history.” In book terms, the function of Paks’s ignorance was to reveal both her character and that of the half-elves, as well as some elven culture, and to set up the surprise of her healing the other ranger. The function of Arcolin’s ignorance is both to reveal character and, in the process, to provide early clues to his motivation for certain actions later…though in neither case was that planned–I didn’t know that those were the book functions when I wrote the scenes, only knew those scenes needed to be written.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 30, 2010 @ 10:48 am


    The issue of choice is a good one to mention, Arthur, because with both Gird and Falk, those who “choose” them are usually embedded in a culture which makes that choice “natural” or “automatic.” Tsaia, remember, is governed by the Code of Gird and has been since the Gird’s day; they have a king only because they found one who had no mage powers and some of the Tsaian nobles (most famously Marrakai) supported the Girdish with money and spears (guns and butter, in modern terms.) So the Tsaian royal family has been staunchly Girdish ever since, and it would’ve been a scandal if Prince Mikeli had turned Falkian (even though there are Falkians in Tsaia, and Falk is considered a saint even by Girdsmen, it’s a minority religion. So are other religions, which are tolerated but have no force in law.)

    Nearly all in Lyonya are Falkian for the same reason–humans grow up surrounded by Falkians, with Falkian parents, Falkian friends, etc. Even the half-elves are mostly Falkian, rather than considering themselves, like the elves, to be children of the Singer. It’s understood that full elves are different, and although they seem to approve of Falk, they aren’t in any way “under” Falk. Rockfolk/earthfolk have their own religions, it’s believed.

    Fintha has no religious diversity–all the humans are–or at least are presumed to be–Girdish (though the Fellowship is more diverse than it was when Gird was alive.) Non-Girdish humans are certainly known–travelers–and tolerated as long as they abide by the Code. (Which does not, of course, require worshipping Gird…it forbids worshipping those gods believed to be evil, but if you want to wear a horsehair ring and dance homage to the Mare of Plenty, that’s OK…you still owe a tithe to the local grange.)

    Even now, the issue of choice in religion is tricky–we talk about freedom of choice, but early conditioning certainly affects that choice, often in ways that seem irrational (a young person brought up by “freethinkers” choosing a very restrictive religion and becoming a near fanatic, which has happened, as has the opposite.)

    Tir was indeed based on (but not perfectly contiguous with) the Norse Tyr.

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